Fitness devices can provide locations of soldiers

The Pentagon shows very little activity    
   Image Strava

The Pentagon shows very little activity Image Strava

Prompted by the observations of 20-year-old Australian student Nathan Ruser, experts weighing in on Twitter have spotted what look to be US and allied bases in Syria, French outposts in Niger, and Turkish troops on patrol in Syria.

However it was only recently discovered that this heat map revealed some secret locations, such as locations in Iraq and Syria where upon closer inspection, revealed the locations and outlines of known U.S. military bases, as well as potential secret locations.

The not the only country that appears to reveal such information: Russian bases also appear to show activity on the map, the Post reported. The app can be used on various devices including smartphones and fitness trackers like Fitbit to see popular running routes in major cities, or spot individuals in more remote areas who have unusual exercise patterns.

Mr Ruser, 20, who is now studying worldwide security at ANU, shared a number of images which purport to reveal FOBs (forward operating bases - commonly used to support tactical operations) established by Western countries. In 2013, the Pentagon distributed 2,500 Fitbits as part of a pilot programme to combat obesity.

"I wondered, does it show USA soldiers?"

"It sort of lit up like a Christmas tree", he said after zooming in in Syria, where the scant jogging activity beams out from an all-black background.

He added that Strava allows users to create a "privacy zone" - a tool that obscures activity within a pre-selected radius.

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Ruser began tweeting about the heat map Saturday and other military experts and analysts soon weighed in. As a result, the military bases stand out brightly against the dark backdrop of these Middle Eastern countries.

At least that's what worldwide security analyst and expert Tobias Schneider thinks. "USA bases are clearly identifiable and mappable", he said on Twitter. The map of Afghanistan appears as a spider web of lines connecting bases, showing supply routes, as does northeast Syria, where the United States maintains a network of mostly unpublicized bases.

Concentrations of light inside a base may indicate where concentrations of troops live, eat or work, suggesting possible targets for enemies who wished to target the base.

Australian Defence Force personnel could be banned from using fitness apps as their routes identify secret military bases.

Military experts have warned the easy-to-use feature poses a security risk to soldiers operating covertly. He pinpointed the location of his former base in Afghanistan using the map.

Information for this article was contributed by Dan Lamothe of The Washington Post.

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